Innovative solutions to sustainable Soil Phosphorus management

, Universität BonnProject number: 031B1061A
Contact: Prof. Dr. Peter Leinweber, University of Rostock
Project team: University of Rostock, Julius-Kühn-Institute, Technische Universität München, Brandenburgische Technische Universität Cottbus, Forschungszentrum Jülich, Bergische Universität Wuppertal (BUW), University Bonn
Link Website:
Duration: 03/04/2021 – 30/04/2024

Project aim 
InnoSoilPhos intents to optimize the soil-P-fertility in order to lower the dependency on phosphate rock-derived P-fertilizers. The P use efficiency in the soil-plant-water-system will be improved by developing new technologies and pro­ducts. Furthermore, the socio-economic and political/legal frame­work will be developed. 
Phosphorus (P) is essential for all life on earth and soils are central in providing P to microorganisms and agricultural crops. While todays agriculture depends on external inputs of non-renewable mineral P fertilizers, a long-term bioeconomy strategy requires to lower the dependency on finite, rock-phosphate derived P fertilizers. A more efficient use of P in crop production is also essential for conserving or improving the freshwater quality. The research is directed to a better understanding of the P transformations across all scales from the atomic and molecular through plot/field/catchment up to the societal scale. The investigations utilize the great potential of novel physical (e.g. quantum-chemical modelling, synchrotron-based spectroscopy), chemical and micro- & molecular-biological methods. 
Expected results 

New evidence in all aspects of P-speciation and P–transformations in the system soil-crops-environment will result in improved P-fertilizer recommendations, approaches to mobilize unavailable P-stocks in subsoils, application guidelines for innovative P-recycling products, novel concepts for “smart” P-fertilizers with by-effects as well as recommendations for policy makers. InnoSoilPhos will provide the BonaRes-center with all P-specific soil data, pedotransfer functions and concepts for web-based soil-function-models. 


Project results from phase 1


Quantum-chemical modelling revealed the binding energy of phosphate and organic P-compounds (e.g. glyphosate) on reactive soil surfaces. Enzymatic and molecular-biological investigations on rhizosphere showed mechanism of P-mobilization under the influence of different management strategies. Data analysis of long-term field experiment resulted in crop-specific phosphorus supply as well as fertilizer policy. Improved and decreased P fertility classes were derived from data sets, which could lead to saving potentials in fertilizer application. Reduction of P-losses in waters necessitate the control of peak discharges in drained areas. P return of bones by means of pyrolysis and interim use of bone char as absorber material is targeting the conservation of geogenic P resources by recycling. P management derived by the project can be improved due to regulatory and economic control instruments.


Project results from phase 2


Integrating the results from Phase II, improvements in agricultural P use can be achieved at all relevant scales be­cau­se all WPs found approaches, either to mobilize P already stored in soil, avoid un­­necessarily high fertilization, mitigate P los­­ses or to better use recycling P ferti­lizer materials and open up ways to a political and legal framework of improved P governance.


Expected results phase 3


The overall objective of InnoSoilPhos is to gain scientific knowledge and define socio-economic and political/legal frameworks for (1) improving the efficiency of P-use in agricultural production, (2) maintaining and improving soil fertility with respect to the nutrient P, and (3) developing new technologies and products to protect global P-resources. In the third phase of InnoSoilPhos, building on the results of Phases I and II, four implementation-oriented research questions are to be addressed: (1) Improvement of biological P-mobilization in soil, (2) Design, Production and Testing of new “smart” P-fertilizers from recycled materials, (3) Reduction of environmentally harmful P-losses at field scale, and (4) Phosphorus in integrated nutrient cycles.